24 November, 2014

Japan Invests More in Robots as Workforce

Robots have been a dream for the science fiction readers of the last several decades – mechanical servants that do everything they are asked to do without expecting anything in return. The same subservient workers are in turn a nightmare for politicians, who consider them a dangerous creation that would replace workforce in factories, leading to huge unemployment and serious problems for human workers. Japan seemingly considers robots a useful economic factor – this is why the local government is investing funds into robotics with the goal of regaining the country’s lead in the field.
In an article posted yesterday, ABC News Australia presents Pepper, the world’s first “emo” robot.

The machine represents a major leap forward in artificial intelligence, reading facial expressions, voice tones and body language, and responding in the right way to the input. Pepper works in a mobile phone store in Tokyo, doing market research. It is almost four feet tall, it has big puppy eyes. It compliments patrons, jokes, and generally acts similar to a human clerk. With a price tag of $2,000, Pepper will surely be a bargain. As a household machine, it will wash, vacuum and other chores, and does not stop smiling for a moment. Such a machine would be a nice addition to any household, saving its owners a great deal of time.

The Japanese government and the industry has other plans for the cute little robot. Japan wants to build 30 million (yes, 30,000,000) of these cute little helpers, and use them as workforce to regain their lead in industrial manufacturing. Robots are a cheap, reliable alternative to human workforce. The best example to show this is the case of Nextage, a Japanese company that builds ATMs and vending machines – the factory outside Tokyo has experienced a five-fold increase in productivity since the factory introduced robotic workforce two years ago.

Robots like Pepper could mean the end of manual labor in Japan – at least for human beings. This would be great for the country, considering that it has a continuous shortage of workforce – out of its almost 130 million citizens, over 31 million are over 65 years old, and this number is expected to grow rapidly in the next few decades. In the next five years Japan plans to increase the use of robots 20 times, hoping to bring on the next industrial revolution.

Link:  http://www.iknowtoday.com/2014/11/24/japan-invests-robots-workforce/

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